By Mass Communication Specialist Third Class Brandon Cyr, USS New Orleans Public Affairs
SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- The amphibious transport dock ship USS New Orleans (LPD 18) completed a four-week underway May 15 as a part of the ship's basic training cycle to prepare for future deployments.
The time at sea was filled with inspections and evolutions, including firefighting, well deck operations, deck landing qualifications and towing exercises to test the readiness of the crew.
"This was a very busy time at sea," said Capt. Douglas Verissimo, the commanding officer of New Orleans. "We had a long list of certifications and expectations to meet and we exceeded them."
New Orleans completed her first towing exercise with a local San Diego tugboat. The exercise consisted of hooking a towing hawser to a tugboat for a 15-minute cruise that included a 90-degree turn.
"The exercise was a massive success," said Boatswains Mate 1st Class Christopher Beach. "I was impressed at how well deck department banded together and completed their first tow."
New Orleans also completed approximately 20 hours of deck landing qualifications with Navy SH-60 Sea Hawk and Air Force HH-60G Pavehawk helicopters during both day and night operations.
"New Orleans is a primary aviation platform in the amphibious readiness group (ARG), so attaining the aviation readiness qualification before deployment is crucial", said Lt. Aaron Johnson, the "Air Boss" aboard New Orleans. "The air department and air augmentees worked seamlessly in all phases of aviation operations."
The largest evolution during New Orleans' underway was executing four days of well deck amphibious operations. New Orleans performed multiple evolutions, launching and recovering two landing craft air cushions (LCAC), 12 amphibious assault vehicles (AAV), two light amphibious resupply cargo (LARC), two coastal riverine assault boats and one landing craft unit (LCU).
"Some of the days were very long", said Beach. "The departments worked tirelessly for hours to launch and recover all types of craft."
During one of the evolutions, the ship's deck department successfully recovered two coastal riverine assault boats. The crew also conducted numerous firefighting drills to improve readiness in case of an actual casualty.
"We were continually running damage control drills during the day and even some at night," said Personnel Specialist Seaman Alexandria Holt. "They were very demanding, but I feel much more prepared to respond now in the event of a real life casualty."
The evolutions and drills conducted during the four-week underway helped prepare New Orleans for their upcoming deployment.
"The crew of New Orleans is resilient, no matter what they are asked to do they meet the challenge head on," said Verissimo. "This training cycle takes Sailors away from their families for weeks at a time, but New Orleans is never phased and continues to work hard to complete the mission."